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Two directors on set


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#1 Tim Partridge

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 03:31 PM

I would like to know experienced opinions of films/music videos/commercials made with two directors. I know that in a lot of cases there have been two directors credited for one production, but one has really been the writer and the other a director. For example, "Written, Produced and Directed by Powell and Pressburger" or the Polish Brothers refered to as a single author when there is actually one onset director. I want to look more specifically at two directors actually being onset together as a partnership. How do two seperate people share one single vision, and then communicate that to cast and crew?

Of course there are quite a few successful mainstream Hollywood, sibling director team ups (interestingly, always of the same sex, always male too), such as the Farrelly Brothers and the Wachowskis. I cannot however think of many successful examples of non-blood related onset directing partnerships. Jeunet and Caro are about it, and even they parted ways pretty quickly!

Recently, I read some comments Bob Hoskins is quoted as having said regarding the two directors who helmed SUPER MARIO BROS:

"The worst thing I ever did? Super Mario Brothers. It was a *beep* nightmare. The whole experience was a nightmare. It had a husband-and-wife team directing, whose arrogance had been mistaken for talent. After so many weeks their own agent told them to get off the set! *beep* nightmare. *beep* idiots."


http://www.cinematic...s-making-super/

Elsewhere on the internet (!) it has been reported that the SUPER MARIO BROTHERS directors (Rocky Morton and Annabel Jankel) were in the awkward position of having disagreements between themselves as a directing team. This was apparently in addition to conflict they shared mutually with cast and crew. A few DVD sites have noted that DP Dean Semler and producer Roland Joffe had to take over the directing reigns on SUPER MARIO BROS because of these conflicts and conflicts within conflicts. Personally, I really like Morton/Jankel's work on MAX HEADROOM and the commercials/music videos they have shot, and they still have big clients in the world of advertising, so clearly that kind of partnership can work. I did notice recently though that certainly in the last ten years they nolonger collaborate onset together.

I have also noticed that quite a few DPs on this forum have worked for or continue to collaborate with two onset director partners, specifically in the music video realm. How does this work? Does one oversee the visuals and the other the performances? Do they divide the disciplines and how does this work when collaborating with a DP? Do you think it is any different to collaborating with one onset director?

Thankyou all in advance!
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#2 David Mullen ASC

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Posted 29 December 2007 - 06:40 PM

Michael Polish is the director on their movies and is credited as such. Much of the time, I confer with Michael about set-ups and coverage, though Mark will be involved in some shot discussions. Mark sometimes goes off and handles second-unit shooting too. Mark and Michael get more involved as a team in terms of writing and talking to actors more than shot coverage issues, but we all try to be on the same page anyway before we even get to set.

In terms of my end of things, I don't have to deal with two people disagreeing with each other over a set-up. For one thing, we tend to plan out the shooting in advance and then shoot the plans on the day. Occasionally if Michael gets called away for something serious, I go to Mark and ask him any questions I have, get his approval first, etc.

I once did some pick-up shooting for a movie where the lead actor and the director sort of co-directed and it was a nightmare, the actor could overrule anything the director asked for, and usually did... so it became pointless to talk to the director -- it was more efficient to find out what the actor wanted us to do, then inform the "director" what we were doing.
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#3 Nicholas Jenkins

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Posted 30 December 2007 - 02:42 AM

I've worked very closely on occasion with Andrew Smith (who co-directed The Slaughter Rule and a few short films with his brother Alex). Their partnership is a unique one and I assume all partnerships on that level are.

Andrews last short "Career Opportunities in Poetry" he directed with his wife. Much of the onset time was very cordial and he and his wife would discuss things quietly first, then Andrew would usually be the voice which carried the direction. I was first assistant camera on the shoot so I didn't get too much time around the directors. But it was always pleasant and collaborative as far as I could see.
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#4 Steve Zimmerman

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Posted 02 January 2008 - 11:36 PM

Husband and wife directing pair Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris directed Little Miss Sunshine and a lot of famous music videos. On the Sunshine DVD, they talk about having to tell their kids they're not really fighting when they have disagreements at home when planning a new project. They work out their differences before shooting.
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#5 Ruairi Robinson

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Posted 03 January 2008 - 10:59 AM

The DGA forbids sharing directing credits(to avoid producers and actors lobbying for a director's credit,) unless it's siblings or husband and wife teams. Robert Rodriguez had to resign from the DGA to allow Frank Miller a co-directing credit.

It also allowed him to have "special guest director" too I guess...
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#6 Benjamin Smith

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Posted 11 January 2008 - 12:26 PM

I have been working for nearly 3 years now with my companies co founder. We are both co-directors of every job we have done. Including Shorts, Music vids, and Docos. I think it's awesome. We both share the same vision for each project yes we disagree on some things but usually one of us realizes the other was right all along. We are in pre production on our first big budget doco this year and I am siked about working with him. It can't work if you aren't willing to compromise on the little things.

I can't imagine a husband and wife team working well. If I get in a fight with my co-director at least I know I can still go home to my family.
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